SSISD fielding bids for new high school track:
AD Owens lays out two-phase plan for new facility
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Oct. 10, 2006 - Sulphur Springs Independent School District trustees have given Athletic Director Greg Owens the go-ahead to go out for bids to determine how much it would cost to construct a new regulation track on land between the high school and early childhood campuses.

The motion for more information came after a two-phase presentation by Owens for construction of a new track on land located north of the railroad tracks on Gladys Alexander Drive.

School officials have budgeted up to $400,000 as a "one-time project" for track needs. Should the bids fall within or near that price range, the district will likely move forward with Phase I of the track project within the 2006-2007 budget year.

But because the plan is only in the preliminary planning stages, no decision has been made regarding the track.

The existing track at Sulphur Springs Middle school has a collapsed lane and curb as well as foundation issues, and is not a metric track up to competition standards, Owens noted. Based on conversations with businesses that have constructed tracks, Owens said, it would be more cost effective to construct a new track, with the middle school facility used for everyday practice or as a back-up area for other activities.

The athletic director said the track was by far "the thing which really jumped out" repeatedly when he and district officials began working on this year's budget.

"The number one thing is our track. It needs to be upgraded, and I propose we build a new track facility and do it in two phases," Owens said.

The first phase would provide the basic outlay for an eight-lane track and lay the surface for crowned infield areas, as well as add parking and an extended drive wide enough for buses and other vehicles to park for workouts, and a security fence around the area.

Owens recommended using a double polyurethane foundation for the track, as opposed to  latex with a tar substance on top, based on its durability and ease of repair.

Phase II calls for expansion of the facility with all of the "whistles and bells," including equipment for extra track events, bleacher seating to accommodate between 300 and 500 people, restroom facilities, lighting, a scoreboard, additional parking/drives and fencing around the entire complex, as well as immediately around the field to keep specators off the track and field.

Other additions such as pole vault and jumping pits could be phased in over time, depending on cost and needs.

Once both phases are completed, the district would be able to host track meets and freshman and junior varsity football games as needed on the facilities. The new track would be used exclusively for school purposes, including meets, games, practices and educational activities, while the middle school track would receive some repairs and could continue to be open to the general public as a walking track.

Before any contraction would begin, the plans for the track would be reviewed to ensure that potential additions and "extras" could easily be made at a later time as funding is available.

Board members Norman Sanders and Carolyn Thomas were quick to give approval to going out for bids. Other board members also indicated their support, but did have some thoughts on the subject.

"I'd like to see some cost figures for Phase 2," said board member Don Sapaugh. "In my mind, I've had the numbers at $400 [thousand] to $500 [thousand]. What you're telling me sounds like twice $400 [thousand].In my mind I envision a nice beautiful track, with shade, and where we can play JV games on it and do things."

Both Jack Chubb and Sapaugh agreed that if a new track is to constructed they "want to do it right," and get it done, without having to start again three years down the road.

Board member Jackie Brice added, "If we get started, we want to keep adding, but we'll have to limit it. We can only do so much."

Board President Judy Gillem asked if everything the district wants can feasibly be done in two phases, or if a third would be needed to see it come to fruition.

"We want this to be thought out so we can continue to build on it. Can we have a third phase?" Gillem asked.

"We want to build on a strong foundation and keep going," Thomas noted.

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